Fascinating Animals

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Archive for the month “December, 2012”

FASCINATING ANIMALS – 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sniffer or Detection Dogs & Police Dogs

United States of America

South Coast K9 Training – Florida, U.S.A. training video

Remember if you get a dog for personal protection or to protect your family, the dog can’t fire a gun, but an armed intruder can.  So, if you have your dog leashed out-doors within firing range, your dog is at risk of being shot and killed by an intruder with a gun, despite the dog’s barking waking you up so you can then get your gun – or run out the other door.

A police dog is trained specifically to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in their work.  Police dogs are often referred to as “K-9s” (a homophone or play on the word “canine”). The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois.   In many jurisdictions the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony and a growing number of law-enforcement organizations outfit dogs with bullet proof vests, police badges and ID collars. Furthermore, a police dog killed in the line of duty is often given a full police funeral.   See  here  for police dog equipment and the history of police dogs in the U.S.A.

European dogs are chosen because they have the drive to keep on fighting when injured (but this doesn’t mean all dogs of these breeds would) . It takes a physically and mentally strong dog to do that, and the dogs that are chosen to be trained also have to be very intelligent and intuitive, able to ‘read’ situations, quick at learning and responsive to the handler.   Some police dogs, usually male dogs, get injured or even killed by criminals that carry knives or guns.

Australia

AUTHORITIES have issued a warning to passengers entering Australian airports with gifts over Christmas – we’ll be smelling you.

Thirty-seven sniffer dogs will be on duty at Sydney’s international airport and mail centre as part of a nationwide push to protect Australian borders.

More than 7000 high-risk items have been seized in Sydney over the past year, including sausages and fruit and veg, as well as animal skulls, a taxidermy wild boar and goat hooves.

And with the traditional Christmas spike in incoming packages, border authorities are on high alert, Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says.

“At Christmas time we know there’s about a seven per cent increase in passenger movements and mail, so we make sure there are staff available to meet that demand,” Senator Ludwig told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Read more…

Life of Pi

siberian-tiger-6

Siberian Tiger – Original Painting by   Jason Morgan

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I am looking forward to seeing this movie “The Life of Pi” which starts screening in Australia on 1 January 2013.  It is based upon a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel, basically about a teenaged boy, with great knowledge about animals, finding himself stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger – and embarks upon a mystical adventure. The book would be good to read too, I think.

If you have seen this movie, please don’t discuss the story-line / theme here, because this post is just to flag that I WILL be seeing it, and am excited about doing so.  I recommend others see it, even though I haven’t yet.   It is directed by Ang Lee, whom also directed one of my favourite movies, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.   The official film site can be found    here.

Dental care for Humans – Part One

Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures, and their impact on the human body.

Human beings are the species Homo sapiens, and they belong to the Animal Kingdom.  They are definitely not Plants, are they?   Therefore, Homo sapiens appear in this blog.  Following up on Part 2 of Bits and Bites about the structure and function of human teeth, this post is about dental care for human beings.  Dental care for your animal companions is in the form of your dog and/or cat cleaning their own teeth through chewing and using their own protective saliva, and is achieved through you the “owner” taking your animal friend to the vet if she/he (the cat or dog) needs dental treatment.  Non-human animals don’t use toothbrushes and neither do they eat sugary food or many carbohydrates, which can cause tooth decay to humans if human beings eat such and don’t exercise basic daily care of their teeth.

bucky beaver iPana
Read more…

Dental care for human beings – Part Two

Crowns

dental_crown

No, I am not talking about the crown that a king or a queen puts on his/her head, but about dental crowns!  A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth, to cover the tooth to restore its shape, size and strength, and improve its appearance. The dental crown, when cemented into place, fully encases the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.

A dental crown can be used to protect a weak tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth, to restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down, to cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left, or to hold a dental bridge (crowns on teeth on either side of a gap) in place.

Crown or Filling??  A dental crown will cost substantially more than a filling. A filling will take just one visit to complete while a dental crown will require two visits to the dentist. Dentists recommend dental crowns for teeth that have sustained a significant amount of damage, and your dentist will be the best person to answer the question whether your damaged tooth needs a crown or a filling.

Hopefully, you will never need a dental crown, if you look after your teeth well.

More information can be read about dental crowns at this page   here.   You need to go twice to the dentist because on the first visit, your dentist will use a paste or putty to make an impression of the tooth to receive the crown.  Then, the Crown needs to be made, and on your second visit, the crown will be affixed regally to your poor tooth.

Root Canal

The often dreaded and seen to be tortuous Root canal treatment is used to save a tooth which would otherwise need to be removed.  It is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury.

The term “Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity (pulp) within the center of the tooth.  A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.

This treatment requires two or three visits, at least two.  On the first visit, your dentist will access the root canal via a hole drilled into the tooth and will clean, medicate and seal the root canal (pulp cavity).  On the second visit, a polymer substance called gutta percha will be piped into the root canal and a composite filling added to close the access hole or gap in the tooth’s enamel covering.

Furthermore, the dentist will probably recommend that you get a Crown put over the tooth because the removal of the pulp will mean limited blood supply to the tooth dentin, thus weakening the tooth.  Adding a dental crown will give more rigorous protection, and of course will mean another visit to the dentist.

Root Canal

You can read more about the procedure for a Root Canal at this link   here  from which the picture above is taken from.

At the time of posting this, it can cost $950 or more in Australia for one root canal treatment, so it is wisest to do your very best to avoid having to get a Root Canal treatment – in order to avoid the multiple visits, the large cost involved, and of course to avoid the pain and discomfort, that having a tooth problem bad enough for a root canal, brings.

 Orthodontics and Braces

Orthodontics is a type of dental treatment that aims to improve the appearance, position and function of crooked or abnormally arranged teeth.  One example of orthodontic treatment is the use of braces, which are a device used to gradually reposition crooked teeth to a more favorable alignment.

Ode to the Grasshopper

grasshopper

Grasshoppers and Crickets

The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Locusts are the swarming phase of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae, and are known to be pests sometimes. However, I wrote the poem below about the Grasshopper years ago, after I caught a baby grass-hopper in my Bug catcher, and then wanted to capture what I thought are the unique features of “the Grass-hopper.”

Around 18000 kinds of grasshoppers are known to humankind today and can be found across the globe, except the north and south pole regions, where the temperatures are extremely low. They are predominantly found in the temperate regions.  The biggest Grasshoppers are about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimetres) long. Their legs are long hind legs that are used for hopping and jumping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.

The grasshopper  has two large eyes called compound eyes, one on each side of its head.  They are composed of many hexagonal lenses, which may mean the insect perceives multiple pictures of the same image.   More likely, it means each lens picks up certain intensities or pixels of an image, and looking through all the lenses puts just one final image together.  The grasshopper has three simple eyes  located between its compound eyes. Simple eyes have only one facet. They can see the difference between light and dark only.  Compound eyes are a way of seeing more efficiently at the high velocities that some insects travel at.   The more lenses, the higher the resolution (or detail) of the image.

If you must know why an insect’s compound eyes are so large, please read this link   here  on “insect vision”, which I tried to do, but it made my head hurt (because it is rather technical).

A Grasshopper’s hearing organ is called the “tympanum” and is located on the abdomen.   The abdominal segments each have a tiny pin-hole called the spiracle, and together, the spiracles allow gas exchange.   Spiracles are tracheal openings in the exoskeleton of a spider (Arachnid) or insect, through which air is admitted and expelled.  They are equivalent to vertebrate lungs, and where human beings inhale oxygen through their noses, Grasshoppers inhale it through their spiracles!

Grasshopper Anatomy

Grasshopper Anatomy

Swarms of Locusts are sometimes confused with swarms of cicadas. Cicadas are actually from a different Order of Insects, being the Order Hemiptera.

Read more…

Animals at the Perth Royal Show

Girl with sheep

Here is the video I took at the Perth Royal Show in October 2010.  I like the Piglet and the white n black bunny that hops around toward the end of the clip.  The IGA Perth Royal Show is Perth’s biggest community event attracting 400,000 visitors from the city and the country every year. With a rich history spanning 170 years, the Show is an iconic social and cultural event which showcases WA agriculture, small business and entertainment.  For more information, click   here.  Click on the words You Tube to watch a larger version on the You Tube site.

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